If you want to change how mental illness is seen and talked about – get into film.
Now’s your chance to steal the limelight in the International Film Competition for the 2017 Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Entries, which are open to global applicants, close on March 31.
One tip for this year’s entries, says producer and film festival curator, Richard Warden, is to capture hearts and minds.
“We’re particularly keen to see films addressing mental health with personality and verve – work that is brave, open, and takes chances. ‘Challenging but accessible’ is one way I put it. But we consider all engaging approaches.”
Now in its 11th year, the competition provides its award winners (and selected other entrants) with the opportunity to showcase their films to festival audiences.
With winning films screened during the Scottish festival in October 2017, and honoured at the International Film Competition awards ceremony, it’s the perfect way to get your work out there and seen by the right people.
Competition is fierce. Last year, the festival received 1600 entries from over 100 countries. Speaking about the mass of global entries, Richard says it’s one of many highlights of his work on the competition. “It’s a privilege to view compelling stories from around the world. We had to start programming beyond just the winners, as there was so much more we wanted people to see. ”
But just by entering your film, you can also be part of the emerging, global discussion about mental health. Claire Lamond’s film All That Glisters won Best Animation in the 2012 International Film Competition, and Sea Front picked up the same award in 2014.
“It’s a fantastic forum to help film-makers and service users addressing important, sensitive issues and I can’t praise enough the political awareness-raising side of it,” says Edinburgh-based Claire (below).
“I know it’s said a lot but we need to talk about mental health: again and again and again and always. The stories that I am drawn to are about people striving to exist and making sense of the world around them. Wee stories about wider society. And this means that mental health often plays a part in the telling of them.”
Claire says film-making and studying creatively has helped her beat her own anxiety and depression; for a time she had to stop work. When she eventually began to recover, she attended Stepping Stones (now replaced by the Alma Project), an arts-based mental health project.
They had a film-maker in residence, Robbie McKillop, and with his support Claire made a feature that won Best Drama in the 2007 Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. “As I recovered more,” says Claire, “the project supported me to go study and I found myself at Edinburgh College of Art.”
For Claire, to have her films recognised in the competition was personally very empowering. “For me it was a testament to the power of art in healing and a personal lesson in the incredible work that arts projects are doing in the area of mental health.
“The actual awards ceremony is an amazing night. It’s such a treat to get to meet a whole pile of film-makers, all with something important to say. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for escapist dramas but that’s not my place,” adds the winning film-maker.
Last year’s winners were shown at the CCA in Glasgow, Edinburgh Filmhouse and other venues, and accompanied by post-show discussions which Richard says is another highlight of his work.
“These conversations can involve film-makers, film subjects, those with lived experience, mental health experts – the audiences are wide-ranging, and the forum is an open one. They’re an opportunity to witness the immediate impact that cinema can have.”
So, what are you waiting for? Go on, enter. Perhaps you too can be an award winning film-maker and start up important conversations about mental health that win hearts and minds across the globe.
For more details on the competition, go here